Starts With An “F”… Ends With A “Q”

December 8, 2007

Without even taking his eyes off the board, Brigham, our 4 year old, calmly said, “It starts with an ‘F’”.

And what confidence!  Clearly he knows what he’s talking about.

Still, we stared in wonder and amazement. What?!

A brief moment of silence filled the room as 16 eyeballs stared blankly at the whiteboard in front of them.  “Starts with an ‘F’… humm what is that?”  The board had two sort-of round, swirly, heavily repeated circles where eyes of a face might be, one even bigger one where an open mouth could have been, and that little one could be a nose.

“A face!”

“Nope” And that is when the second set of swirly, whirly, wild circles started on the other side of the whiteboard.

Now the guesses started shooting forth from the children like bullets from a machine gun… “Fan!” “Frog!” “Feet!” “Fence!” “Furniture” “Family!” “Friends!”

But Brigham was totally unfazed… He calmly just kept saying, “Nope”.

After about the sixth circle, he turned around, face beaming with shear joy, body infused with the satisfaction of holding the whole family spellbound.  “AAAANNNDD it ends with a ‘Q’!”

That brought a thundering silence to the room that had been erupting with shouts of joy and peals of laughter.

“What?? Ends with a ‘Q’. Nothing ends with that letter!”

After the shock of the second clue wore off, the guesses continued with (if this is possible) even more enthusiasm and spasms of laughter.  It was a wild ruckus of the best sort – imagine 6 siblings racing around the whiteboard, jumping up and down, shouting at the top of their lungs.

One can be seen crossing their legs, trying not to wet their pants from laughing so hard.

Another can be seen jumping up and down, waving his arms madly.

Another is flopping on the ground, crying out, “An ‘F’ and a ‘Q’… an ‘F’ and a ‘Q’!”

And a fourth – Hyrum, our 6 yr old and newest reader – hysterically questioning, “Faaaquwa?  Faaquwa?  What’s a faaquwa?”

All the while the merry game of pictionary went on, with Brigham happily drawing circles and saying, “Nope” to every guess thrown his way.

Then in a sudden burst of energy and hilarity, Brigham turned to face the family.  Drawing in enough air to practically create a wind tunnel in the living room, he swelled up like a monstrous bloated toad and screamed out, “No!!!!! It’s a hammer!!”

All sense of composure was lost by adult and young ones alike.  A full ten minutes later, we could all still be seen laughing and holding our sides and saying, “The hammer that starts with an ‘F’ and ends with a ‘Q’!”

This night of pictionary on the whiteboard and the game of charades that preceded it, was not planned in advance, didn’t cost a single penny to do, required little  (if any) mental muscle, involved and included even the youngest of the family members, consumed less than an hour, and resulted in more family fun than parents or children should legally be allowed to have.

Family fun time:  It’s at the heart of “The Home Feeling”… give it a try.

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The Practicing Siblings

November 30, 2007

Smack!

A brief moment of silence… the deep intake of breathe before the scream erupts, I suspect.

WWWWWWAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Yep. Just as I suspected. Isaac and Brigham are “playing” together.  Sigh… more fighting.

Slowing I get up from my chair in my office. Not too easy to concentrate on digital isolation theories – let alone write a white paper on them – when mournful chaos is erupting in the room next door.

“Ok, boys, what is going on?”  “I-I-I-I-s-s-s-a-a-a-c, he h-i-i-i-t me-e-e-e!” my youngest boy wails.

Unfortunately, the scene is repeated more often then I’d like to admit. It seems that the chemistry between some of my children is just off.  They rather delight in inflicting pain and torture on each other.

It has been a parenting issue that has pressed heavily on my mind, and I have wondered repeatedly what to do. I’ve tried threatening, bribing, rewarding, begging, and, yes, even spanking. But to no avail – they seem as happy as ever to pull off the kid gloves the minute a minor conflict ensues.

About a week ago, during our morning family scripture study a thought popped into my mind. “The fighting has become a habit – a habit born of a lack of skills.  How do you break a habit? You don’t… you replace it.”  The thought was so strong it startled me.  Of course, they don’t have the skills yet – especially since I have not specifically and systematically taught them.

So, that very morning we digressed from the topic at hand and discussed habits and the ruts we often get into out of lack of skills, laziness, or both. We openly talked about the arguing and fighting.  In the end, as a family, we resolved that the only way to restore a higher level of peace and harmony was to replace the habit of fighting with other, more peaceful tactics.  And to do that we had to practice.

So, corporal punishment, threatening, bribing and punishments (at least in its old form) went out the window, and practicing came into play.  Here’s how it works… the second an argument begins (or even before if Margie and I are on hand), the offending siblings are split apart and asked if they are making good choices.

“No”

“Ok, then how could we handle this better?”

A calm conversation follows giving various alternative responses.  Once that is settled, they get to “practice” handling the situation the calm, peaceful and rational way.  Ideally, they get to practice 5 or 6 times… but sometimes parental patience only accommodates once.  Regardless, they practice doing it right.

The result?  Harmony.  First of all, it turns out that being compelled to change your attitude in the midst of a good mad is just about the worst punishment that you can inflict on a child.  Second, real conflict resolution skills are being emphasized, learned, and applied by our children (and, oh, the humility of confession… but also by their parents!).

Is it a lot more work for us as parents?  Yes. Do we enjoy doing it? Not really. Do the benefits far out-weigh the cost?

Most definitely.


“We Could Fill the Whole House With Little Babies!”

October 6, 2007

It wish… with all my heart, I wish I would have been there.

Aren’t there times like that in our life? Magical family moments that you would give anything to go back and be a part of. Times when the flood gates of happiness and joy seem to burst open and run all over your heart.

And you know… usually, those times are just simple things. Not the so-called great and glorious events of life or even the major milestones. Nope. More often than not, they are just the simple quiet moments of life that spark something eternal in your heart and ignite a flame of pure happiness, joy, and peace.

This time, it was the sound of tiny 5 year old feet pitter-pattering softly on the hall carpet. Those little feet made their way across the living room floor and up on to the couch beside my dear and wonderful wife.

It was early – not even 6:00 am yet. The rest of the house was quiet and sleepy. Everyone that is except for Sariah, Margie and me (I was already up in my office reading scriptures). Sariah, being only 3 weeks old, already had Margie out of bed, crying for a morning snack. It was Isaac that came and snuggled on the couch next to these two wonderful girls.

He began quietly caressing Sariah’s head and playing with her miniature feet and hands. “Mom, look at these feet. They’re so cute! And Mom, I’m going to tell you this… look at her pretty little fingers. Aren’t they soooo cute Mom? And mom, I’m going to tell you this… I think we should have more babies. Yeah, lots more because they are so sweet and cute. Mom, you know what? We could fill this whole house with more and more babies! And you know what Mom? I love little Sariah… she is soooo cute.”

Margie later told me that he was definitely in earnest as he spoke. His face was serious, sincere and full of infinite love for his little sister.

Oh! How I wish I would have been there to see those shining eyes and to hear his happy voice, expressing a deep longing in his heart.

In a way, his 5-year-old logic was true to the mark. You see, he figured that if this one darling little girl brought so much joy and happiness into our home, then surely, a whole home full of the little angels would bring exponentially more happiness and joy. Of course, his timing is off, but his idea is right.

One day, though it may be long, long into the future, every parent will likely have a whole house full of little babies – at least of their children.

It made me think of my wife’s grandmother. She is now almost 97 years old. In her younger days, she gave birth to 12 children. In turn, through time, those children have multiplied, bringing grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great, great grandchildren. In all her posterity is well over 500 today, and more than that if you count in-law spouses.

And it just keeps growing. Imagine, in less than 100 years she has over 500 children filling her house and bringing her joy.

I have often though, “How much good has that woman brought into the world?” She established traditions and attitudes and perspectives that have immediately influenced hundreds of people and touched the lives of thousands and thousands. And, given another 100 years, how much more power and influence will this one woman have had? It is almost incomprehensible to consider.

Now, regardless if you are a mother of 12 or of 1, your power for good is the same. Over time, your family will grow and multiply, expanding over time.

The traditions, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and perspectives that you hold today will multiply right along with your family. It will grow and spread and expand and touch thousands and thousands of lives – for good or bad.

So, what are you doing today with your life? With your parenting?

One thing is sure and certain… one day, you will have a house full of children – thousands of them. What kind of future are you giving them by how you are living today?